Thursday, July 13, 2006

Camp Shakespeare: Days 2 & 3


We just finished classes today, and I am reaching exhaustion, both physically and emotionally. Physically because of the late nights, emotionally because of the risks we all took today.

I think this is very, very good for me as a teacher to be here. When I ask my students to get up in front of a class and recite a monologue, I know it's a risk and it's scary. I acknowledge it's a risk to them, and then I force them to do it, but doing that same exercise here forces me to not only "know" it's a risk, but to feel the risk. How brave my students are! And I think I know how to be gentler and more compassionate in getting them to take that leap. Or at least, I hope to learn how to do that by the end of this institute.

I am coming to love these people, too. We're surprisingly different, more than you would think for a group of people who do the exact same thing for a living, but in just a few days I have gotten to know these 30-odd individuals and feel affection for almost all of them. This is just such a powerful thing we're doing... it's amazing.

Can you tell I'm overwhelmed right now? This is coming off a bit touchy-feely, that kind of emotional purging theater people indulge in. It's like EFY's spiritual rush, but in a non-secular setting. Kind of. I am aware of you, my reader, and wonder if you are laughing at me for this kind of rambling. If nothing else, understand that we are doing things here that will change me, so it's a little hard to articulate what's happening without sounding... odd.

I not only stood in front of a group today and did a monologue, but I let them direct me, and they got me to stop the theatrics and just be me and just let the words speak. No gestures, no foot movement, just slow and deliberate words. And if you've seen me teach, you know how unnatural that is for me. It was really hard to be vulnerable in that sort of way. Good for me, I think, but it's probably one of the most challenging things I've done in a long time. I couldn't hide, and I couldn't divert my group's attention to the ideas, or to my gestures and energy, or to themselves. It was just about me. And, oddly, that kind of delivery gave so much more power to the monologue.

Briefly, I'll also note that we saw "Hamlet" in Lenox last night. It was interesting. Overall, I wasn't too pleased with it, although there were some ideas I will steal. While there were many things I disagreed with or didn't like, in discovering those issues and in trying to figure out how to fix them, I realized a lot about the play. So even though it was a dis-satisfying performance, I learned quite a bit from it. I'll also note that I loved some characters for the first time, particularly Polonius and Horatio. They were both marvelous, and Laertes brought out some wonderful new meanings. I felt, for the first time, that Polonius, Ophelia, and Laertes were a family - a loving family. Which, of course, made their endings all the better. :)

I'm off to dinner now, then I'm joining a group to see "Glass Menagerie" in town. I can't say I'm especially excited about that play, but I feel a sense of obligation. I've never actually seen it performed, so I go out of necessity. I hope I enjoy it. As much as one can enjoy Tennessee Williams.

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